Treadmill Alternatives – The 6 Best Alternatives to Treadmill Workouts

The Best Alternative Treadmill Workouts
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Treadmill alternatives are necessary for people who have discomfort from using a treadmill.

The treadmill is one of the most commonly used exercise machines in the world because nearly everyone can use it, and it is relatively simple. Although treadmills are very popular, treadmill workouts are less effective than many other forms of exercise and can cause injuries when overused.

Fortunately, there are many treadmill alternatives for anyone who has discomfort when using a treadmill or for those who want to do a more effective workout.

Although using a treadmill can be effective for burning calories and building some amount of physical conditioning in a convenient setting, treadmills very limited in terms of how much you can use it to improve your body.

Therefore, using treadmill alternatives is a much better option.

What Problems Do the Alternatives to Treadmill Workouts Solve?

The main problem with the treadmill is that running on a treadmill can put a severe strain on your ankles, knees, hips, and lower back. When you run on a treadmill, the pounding action of your feet recurringly hitting the tread sends shock-waves through your body at an intense rate and in an unnatural way.

Our joints are capable of absorbing large amounts of pressure and exertion since the human body is built to take a certain level of punishment, however, the cartilage and ligaments in our joints are without-a-doubt prone to injury, especially when you stress them with regularly running on a treadmill.

Running on a treadmill many times a week puts your body at risk for a wide array of pain from conditions such as osteoarthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis.

If you are looking to build an aesthetic physique or improve your overall health, you don’t want to be doing this!

Additionally, if you are an athlete and training for competition, training on the treadmill is a bad idea because it can create many muscular imbalances. Running on the treadmill uses the quadriceps and anterior chain muscles much more than the hamstrings, glutes, and posterior chain muscles.

If you are planning to go from treadmill training to an athletic competition, you are exposing yourself to a high risk of injury.

Lastly, running on a treadmill is very different from actually running outside, and it creates an unnatural movement for the body. Even when running outside, many people do not run with proper form.

Adding in the constriction of the treadmill’s treads, people tend to alter their running-stride substantially.

A treadmill can be a useful device used as a small part or feature of your daily exercise routine, but too much treadmill use will take a toll on your body!

There are many personal trainers who can help you use a treadmill properly, but even they will not have you running on a treadmill often.

Keep reading below to see the best alternative exercises to the treadmill!

What Are the Best Treadmill Alternatives?

If you are looking for treadmill alternatives, there are an incredible number of options for you!

Before you determine which alternative to treadmill training you want to use, you should first consider your training goals.

  • Are you looking to lose weight?
  • Do you want to build muscle?
  • Is anaerobic or aerobic conditioning more important for you?

Once you understand your goals, you can easily determine the best treadmill alternative for yourself!

When it comes to treadmill alternatives, these are the best options:

  • Stationary Bicycle
  • ERG Rowing Machine
  • Elliptical Machine
  • Stair Stepper
  • Total Gym
  • MaxiClimber

Not only are these exercises easier on your joints, but they are much more functional exercises as well! These exercises will not only help you to lose weight and burn calories, but they will help you become stronger and healthier for your daily life as well.

Regardless of which you chose, these are all excellent alternatives to treadmill training.


treadmill vs elliptical machine

Elliptical exercise machines are one of the most undervalued pieces of gym equipment.

Elliptical machines are a low-impact form of exercise as they combine a treadmill-type walking exercise with an “elliptical” motion of the legs.

Elliptical machines can provide the user with a powerful cardiovascular workout while working most of the major muscle groups of both the upper and lower body.

Elliptical machines can be used on an incline, at different speeds, and with varying levels of resistance.

You can also use an elliptical machine in reverse to exercise the back of the thighs and the hamstrings. Unlike a treadmill where your feet impact with the machine, your foot remains in contact with the elliptical machine to provide a low-impact workout.

Probably the single most important benefit of the elliptical is that anyone can do it. Yes, it is true that the elliptical is not a functional exercise such as the Jacob’s Ladder Exercise, running, or even walking, but it still is exercise.

The elliptical puts minimal stress on all the joints in your body, and it is an excellent piece of equipment to be used by those with injuries, or who are just beginning their fitness career. The motion of the elliptical itself is incredibly easy to learn and it can be learned by pretty much anyone.

Another benefit of choosing an elliptical machine is that it is very easy to find them, and they can fit pretty much anywhere whether you live in a house or an apartment.

An elliptical takes up even less space than a treadmill, and you can find them more often than other home fitness machines on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.

For those who are recovering from lower-body injuries and attempting to stay in shape, the elliptical is a perfect piece of equipment to work your heart rate while not stressing your injury.

Along with this, it has also been shown through research that using the elliptical is one way to decrease the risk of knee injuries, and can be beneficial for those recovering from knee injuries! As published in the journal Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society,

“The results showed that the pivoting elliptical training is effective to improve off-axis neuromuscular control in healthy individuals and such training protocol can potentially be implemented to prevent knee injury.”

For anyone who has suffered a lower-body injury, it is well known that it is difficult to maintain your physical condition while rehabbing, and the elliptical can absolutely help this process!

There are many benefits to buying an elliptical machine to use at home! If you’d like to buy a new one, this is a great option for you:

ProForm 150I Elliptical
  • Front drive design, 17 inch stride length, soft grips upper body workout arms, oversized pedals,...
  • 12 resistance levels, iPod compatible audio, transport wheels, adjust leveling feet, water bottle...
  • IFit ready, large LCD display, 12 workout apps, EKG heart rate monitor
  • 250 pound weight capacity
  • The ProForm 150I elliptical is protected with a 5 year frame warranty and 90 day parts & labor...

Rowing Machine

treadmill vs rowing machine

The rowing machine is one of the least used, yet, most effective exercises that you can do.

Although there are many benefits of using the other treadmill alternatives listed in this article, a rowing machine offers a type of workout that the others don’t!

A rowing machine can fit just as easily into your home gym as the others, and can help you achieve an even greater level of fitness!

Rowing machines engage your legs, arms, and abdominal muscles, and an ERG rowing machine can provide you an excellent workout for nearly all the major muscle groups.

In addition to losing weight and burning fat, a rowing machine helps to improve muscle definition in both your upper and lower body.

Furthermore, rowing is an excellent choice as your alternative to the treadmill because it is incredibly different than any other movement you do, and will work muscles you hardly even knew you had.

Rowing machines are also great for people who want to get in exceptional shape. If you are trying to get a truly aesthetic body, a rowing machine is a great option.

ERG rowing workouts are even included in many CrossFit workouts and competitions.

If you are an athlete looking to do some cross-training in your off-season, rowing is a low-impact exercise that can help to keep you in top physical condition year-round.

If you are looking to learn how to lose weight fast, build muscle, or improve your cardiovascular fitness, rowing is also a great choice for you.

If you would like to purchase an ERG rowing machine as an alternative to treadmill training, this is an excellent option:

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5 Performance Monitor, Black
  • This item benefits from an Extended 90 Day Return Window
  • Low impact workout that engages all major muscle groups; work legs, core and arms with a smooth,...
  • Track your progress with real-time reliable data; the Performance Monitor 5 (included)...
  • Designed to fit most users: 14-inch seat height, adjustable footrests and ergonomic handle
  • Separates easily into two pieces for storage; caster wheels make it mobile; easy to assemble with...

Check out these rowing machine reviews on IntenseDebate to see more options.

Stationary Bike

Using a stationary bike is certainly one of the best alternatives to treadmill workouts and it is probably my favorite treadmill alternative.

stationary exercise bike is compact and easy to use, and the resistance level can be adjusted for a leisurely ride or an extremely tough workout.

One of the more unique features of stationary bikes is that many people enjoy using a stationary bike while watching their favorite television program, or you can add a book holder and read your favorite magazine or book while riding.

In my opinion, the main reason to purchase a stationary bike compared with other home exercise machines is that I believe they are the most convenient for doing HIIT calorie-burning workouts. Other exercise machines are great, but in my opinion, doing Tabata Intervals on a stationary bicycle is one of the best overall ways of getting in better shape.

If you would like to purchase a stationary bike, there are a lot of options. You can choose between a fan bike or spin bike, or you can choose a more traditional stationary bicycle.

Spin bikes are great for more intense training, and there are a wide variety of options. They also tend to take up a small amount of space, but they have a lot of built-in technology to enhance your workouts.

If you’d like to purchase a spin bike, I believe these are the best options:

NexHt Spin Bike

This spin bike is one of the best for home use, and it can carry a maximum weight of 280 lbs of maximum weight. This spin bike has an LCD monitor which will make your workouts comfortable and exciting.

NexHT Fitness Exercise Cycle Bike (89103A) Indoor Workout Cycling Bike w/LCD Monitor& Heart Pulse Sensors,Max User Weight:280lbs,Full Adjustable Health Sport Trainer Stationary Bicycle -Blue
24 Reviews
NexHT Fitness Exercise Cycle Bike (89103A) Indoor Workout Cycling Bike w/LCD Monitor& Heart Pulse Sensors,Max User Weight:280lbs,Full Adjustable Health Sport Trainer Stationary Bicycle -Blue
  • Perfect for body workout training , health improving, muscle building, weight loss, cellulite...
  • Heavy-duty Crank and Steel Frame with a 24.3 lbs Flywheel. Max User weight up to 280 lbs....
  • Motivational LCD Console Displays with5 functions :Time, Speed, Distance, Total Distance, Calories...
  • Handlebar &Resistance. The seat can be adjusted for height and proximity to handlebars! With a...
  • Belt Drive Mechanism for Smooth and Quiet Workouts. Easy to assemble, all High Safety and 100%...

XtremepowerUS PRO SPIN 40

This is a very attractive spin bike that can carry up to 320 lbs of maximum user weight.

It also has an LCD monitor and a flywheel that weighs 40 lbs. This is a very sturdy spin bike and it is made for heavy use.

XtremepowerUS Exercise Bike 22lb Flywheel Stationary Workout Machine Blue
  • Quality and Durability - The heavy duty steel frame and crank adds essential quality and durability...
  • Water Bottle Holder - The convenient bottle holder keeps your favorite refreshing beverage at arm's...
  • Multi-Functional Digital Monitor - Tracking your progress is simple with the Multi-functional...
  • Leather Padded Seat - Fully adjustable leather padded seat, moves forward/back & up/down. Seat can...
  • Adjustable Handlebars - Padded adjustable handlebars that move up and down in height. Multi-grip...

Stair Stepper

Stair stepper machines are one of the best alternatives to treadmills because they help you get the benefit of climbing stairs without the stress on your joints that actually climbing stairs can cause.

You can change the resistance of both the downstep and the elevation of the upward step.

Some stair steppers have an option to vary the speed as well. You can also usually program some computerized models for interval training by speed, resistance, and height.

Stair stepper machines are a bit expensive, but they can provide an incredible workout on their own. If you’d like to purchase one, here is a great option:

Precor CLM 835 Commercial Series Stair Climber with P30 Console (Renewed)
  • This Certified Refurbished product is tested and certified to look and work like new. The...
  • Commercial-grade stair climber uses the same smooth, self-powered generator system as Precor...
  • Built-in touch sensor for heart rate monitoring and Polar compatible 5 KHz wireless chest strap...
  • Step height 4-13 inches; 14 workouts with 31 resistance levels
  • Measures 47"L x 32"W x 69"H; weighs 250 pounds

Total Gym

If you’d like a home exercise machine as a treadmill alternative that can help you build muscle mass, a Total Gym is a great option for you.

There are a lot of options for buying a Total Gym, and the price depends on how many options the Total Gym comes with. If you would like to purchase an advanced Total Gym to get the most possibilities, the Total Gym XLS is the best Total Gym option in my opinion!

The Total Gym XLS can be used for over 80 exercises! When comparing free weights vs machines for building muscle, I personally believe free weights are the better option, but buying a Total Gym is a cost-efficient option for people who want a treadmill alternative that can do more than just help with calorie burning.

Total Gym XLS Men/Women Universal Total Body Training Foldable Home Gym Workout Machine with Squat Stand, Leg Pull, 2 Ankle Cuffs, and Exercise Chart
1,410 Reviews
Total Gym XLS Men/Women Universal Total Body Training Foldable Home Gym Workout Machine with Squat Stand, Leg Pull, 2 Ankle Cuffs, and Exercise Chart
  • CHOOSE FROM 80 ROUTINES: Equipped to handle more than 80 exercises with 6 levels of resistance in 1...
  • FULL BODY WORKOUT: Concentrates on all the major muscle groups: cardio, strength training, and...
  • ACCESSORIES INCLUDE: Comes complete with ribbed squat stand, wing attachment, leg pull accessory...
  • FREE VIDEO ACCESS: Includes access to stream workouts from Total Gym TV for free for extra guidance...
  • SAVE THE HARD WORK: No assembly required and folds for compact storage; Dimensions (L x W x H): 90 x...


The MaxiClimber is a unique treadmill alternative that can help you burn a ton of calories in a short amount of time.

The MaxiClimber is an easy-to-setup vertical climbing machine that allows you to do a true full-body workout! The MaxiClimber is a great alternative to the treadmill because it engages all of the major muscle groups to help you burn more calories and also build muscle mass.

By using your own body weight as the resistance, the MaxiClimber provides a great cardiovascular and strength training workout that’s also low impact on your joints

Additionally, by using the MaxiClimber Fitness App you get access to High-Intensity Interval Training routines that burn a maximum amount of calories in a minimum amount of time.

The original MaxiClimber supports up to 240 pounds, but you can get an advanced version if you are a bigger individual (like myself).

Lastly, the MaxiClimber is a great alternative to the treadmill because it is compact, so it is ideal for small apartments, basements, and garages.

MaxiClimber Vertical Climber Combines Resistance Training and High-Intensity Cardio for a Full Body Workout. Free Coach-led Classes & Fitness App
  • Versatile and easy-to-use climber that works for all fitness levels, with BONUS companion Fitness...
  • Full-body workout, combines calorie burning cardio with muscle toning in one simple step.
  • Low impact workout, easy on the knees and ankles.
  • Saves time - No need to drive to the gym and use several machines.
  • Easy to set up, lightweight and height adjustable. Comes 90% pre-assembled, ready to use in minutes....

You can check out Fitness Purity for a more extensive list of reasons you should use the Maxi Climber.

Concluding Thoughts – The Best Treadmill Alternatives

Along with the treadmill alternatives listed above, a couple of other great alternative workouts to treadmill training are the Jacob’s Ladder Exercise and the prowler sled push. However, these are even more intense alternatives, and they aren’t suited for everyone.

As you can see, there are a variety of treadmill alternatives.

If you want to walk on a treadmill to warm up, I don’t see a problem with that. You can burn up to 100 calories per mile when you walk at a moderately quick pace for one mile as a warm-up on a treadmill. However, you should not try to use a treadmill for a substantial part of your workout.

If you need some helpful pieces of advice when it comes to saving money to purchase a treadmill alternative for your home gym, you can get financial help and tips from financial websites such as Crediful.


Adam Kemp
Hello! My name is Adam Kemp. I am a professional basketball player and an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer. In 2014 I graduated from Marist College with a B.A. in Communications, and in 2022 I completed my Master's of Science in Nutrition Education at American University. Additionally, for the last eight years, I have played professional basketball in Europe. I am also an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer. The health and fitness tips you can find throughout the articles I have written include information I have learned throughout my basketball career, academic studies, and my own personal research. If you would like to learn more about my life, please take a moment to follow me on Instagram and Twitter.

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